Become a member and get exclusive access to articles, live sessions and more!
Start Your Free Trial

Afghanistan Hosts First American Jazz Concerts in Decades

For six days last month, from Sept. 28 to Oct. 3, Afghanistan hosted the first jazz concerts by American artist since the early 1970s and the first performances of American music since the fall of the Taliban government in 2001.

Hosted by American Voices, the performances were captured on “Jazz Bridges Afghanistan,” a series of concerts, DVD and CD recordings and documentary filming in Kabul, Afghanistan. The performance series featured performances by American Voices’ Executive Director and pianist John Ferguson, the Mike Del Ferro Jazz Trio (pictured) and vocalist Coco York, along with two groups of traditional Afghan musicians playing the tabla, dilruba, rhubab and harmonium, and pop musicians. Three concerts from the series will be broadcast on national television in January.

The response to the concerts was enthusiastic, especially to jazz renditions of popular Afghan songs, including “Flower Girl of Kabul” and Ahmad Zahir’s “Laily Laily Jan.”

The Jazz Bridges Afghanistan project was underwritten by a grant from the Public Affairs Section of the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, and additional support from the Embassy of the Netherlands, Ronco Consulting and Global Fleet Sales, representing the Ford Motor Company in Afghanistan.

American Voices was founded in 1992 to encourage the appreciation and understanding of American music and culture, especially in developing countries. It was founded partially in response to the newly independent countries of the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. The organization has evolved to become the only American musical association committed to interactive performances and education in countries in the Middle East and Central Asia. American Voices showcases all types of indigenous American genres, from Broadway to jazz to hip-hop. More information is available on their website at

Originally Published